America, Happy 236th Birthday! You don't look a day over 200. In your 236 years, you have and always will be a great beacon of hope for your citizens and the world.
We are a nation of over 300 million. Our growth, as the growth in any family, has not come without some pain, without some suffering, and without some sacrifice. We have debated major issues, some that really never made much sense. Yet the pain, the suffering, the sacrifice and the debates have yielded great victories that make us, the great nation we are today.
Americans feel a certain sense of pride, when we see our flag flown from the White House, around the Washington Monument, from embassies and at our nation's major sports venues. Your majestic colors have special significance, we sometimes overlook.
Your white stripes recognize our nation's founding in purity and innocence. The "Old Glory Red" represents the "hardiness and valour" which you have fought for, and that which you fight to protect, be it American or for others. And the blue, "Old Glory Blue" signifies your vigilance, perseverance and justice. In a book published by the House of Representatives in 1977 about the flag, it is written that "the star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.
America, you have not always been kind to your citizens. The framers of the U.S. Constitution did not write words that freed the slaves, gave women equality or the right to vote, made segregation impossible, grant immigrant's rights, or provide for health care for every American. But it did leave the door open, for men and women to interpret the Constitution, and to right the ills that have at times plagued our country.
On your birthday, America, I follow an excellent example of our founding fathers, of my parents and of God Almighty. I embrace you as you have embraced me. I wrap myself in our flag because I respect, appreciate and above all honor its significance. The only thing that remains for our nation to do, is to recognize that as a nation we can do better, we can do more together, than we can apart. The politics of division will only hurt us, and if not corrected, defeat us. As President Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
At times the justices of our nation have helped to right our ship. Chief Justice Warren when presiding over the Supreme Court felt he needed a unanimous decision on Brown vs. Board of Education. When Muhammad Ali challenged the nation's conscience and refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army, it was a unanimous decision that vindicated him. And recently, when some of the nation's governors and those on the right contested a law that would insure that every American have equal access to health care the court, led by Chief Justice Roberts, by a narrow decision affirmed this right. Often these decisions create debate, but they also unite us historically in ways the present cannot immediately teach us.
America your colors, our Declaration of Independence and Constitution inspire the ideal of unity upon which our nation was created. We are strongest together. The days following 9/11 demonstrated the power of our unity.
So on your birthday, we come together as family and friends. We come together as a nation to celebrate your birth. We sing your song "America" with pride, we light our fireworks with excitement and celebration. We revel in the idea that being an American is a birth given right, not all can share.
I thank you America. I thank you for freedom. I thank you for sacrifice. I thank you for opportunity. Because all in all, good and bad, there is no nation in the world I would prefer to be a citizen of than the land of the free, the home of the brave. America!